Russian General Says the Truth Got Him Fired

Ivan Popov reports dismissal over complaints about how the war in Ukraine is going
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 13, 2023 4:05 PM CDT
Russian General Says the Truth Got Him Fired
Maj. Gen. Ivan Popov, the commander of the 58th Army, in a photo released in June.   (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

The commander of Russia's 58th Army, which has been deployed in Ukraine's southern region of Zaporizhzhia, said he had a choice when briefing his superiors about the battle situation. Maj, Gen. Ivan Popov suggested he knew which option was more likely to preserve his job, the BBC reports. "It was necessary either to keep quiet and be a coward or to say it the way it is," he said in a voice message posted Wednesday on Telegram. "I had no right to lie in the name of you, in the name of my fallen comrades in arms, so I outlined all the problems which exist." Popov said he's no longer the army's commander.

The general said his frank assessments involved the casualty rate and the lack of intelligence and batteries to counter artillery attacks. Popov's criticism seemed to be directed at the head of the army, Valery Gerasimov, and the defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, though he didn't mention their names, per the Guardian. "Our army was not broken through the front, but our most senior commander hit us in the back, thus treacherously beheading the army in the most difficult period," Popov said. Russian military bloggers said the order to remove him came from Gerasimov, who accused Popov of "alarmism and blackmailing senior management."

There's been no official comment from Russian leaders about the issue, but some appeared supportive of Popov. Andrei Turchak, secretary general of the ruling United Russia party, said the general's "conscience was clear." Russia might be down at least one other general. Gen. Sergei Surovikin, an ally of former Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin, hasn't been spotted in public since the rebellion failed, per the Guardian. A reporter who inquired was told Surovikin was "resting." (Another Russian general was reported killed in a Ukrainian strike.)

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